One way to learn about federal laws and regulations is through the federal agencies charged with enforcing them. Check the list below for links to agency sites on popular legal topics. Where no federal law exists, sites offer compilations of state laws on a topic.
Protection of the environment is managed at the federal and state levels.
Air Pollutants, Clean Water, and Safe Drinking Laws
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) addresses several issues, from setting limits on certain air pollutants to enforcing federal clean water and safe drinking laws. In addition, EPA enforces federal regulations to reduce the impact of businesses on the environment.
Issues Relating to State, Local, and Tribal Government Operations
Many environmental programs have been delegated to the states and they have primary responsibility over them. In addition, some environmental laws and regulations apply to tribal government operations.
Impeachment is the process of bringing charges against a government official and holding a trial to potentially remove him or her from office for wrongdoing.
Under the Constitution, the House of Representatives investigates and brings charges against (impeaches) a federal official.
The Senate then holds an impeachment trial to determine if the official is guilty of misconduct.
In the impeachment of a president, the U.S. Supreme Court chief justice presides.
If found guilty, the official is removed from office and may never be allowed to hold elected office again.
Though the House has initiated more than 60 impeachments of federal officials, including two presidents, one cabinet secretary and one senator, only eight—all federal judges—have been convicted and removed from office.
Agencies may withhold information related to nine exemptions and three exclusions contained in the FOIA. The act applies only to federal agencies and does not create a right of access to records held by Congress, the courts, or state or local government agencies. Each state has its own public access laws.
You can search for data from a single agency or compare data from multiple agencies by exploring the FOIA data from an agency's annual FOIA report.
See records about your personal information, subject to the act’s exemptions
Correct a record that is inaccurate or incomplete unless it’s exempt
Sue the government for violating the law for improper disclosures
How to Make a Privacy Act Request
To request records under the Privacy Act, you must contact the federal agency you believe holds the records.
When creating your request:
Explain what information you want, why you believe the agency has information about you, and when you believe the record was created. Provide as many details as possible.
Include proof of identity, such as a copy of your driver’s license.
Ask about any fees you’ll owe for copies of your files.
Agencies typically group their Privacy Act and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) offices together. When you write, address your request to the agency’s or program’s FOIA/Privacy Act Officer and state in your letter that it is a Privacy Act request.
Learn more specific guidelines from these agencies:
Regulation of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives
Three federal organizations regulate alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and explosives:
Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) - collects excise taxes on alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and ammunition and ensures that these products meet labeling, advertising, and marketing laws. It also administers the federal laws and regulations that protect consumers.
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) - protects our communities from violent criminals, criminal organizations, the illegal use and trafficking of firearms, the illegal use and storage of explosives, acts of arson and bombings, acts of terrorism, and the illegal diversion of alcohol and tobacco products.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) is responsible for carrying out the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which Congress passed in 2009. This law – commonly called the Tobacco Control Act – gives FDA broad authority to regulate the manufacturing, distribution, and marketing of tobacco products.
State and Local Government
State and local laws also regulate the sale and distribution of alcohol and tobacco. For more information:
After the agency considers the public's comments and changes the rule if necessary, it publishes the rule’s final version in the Federal Register, along with a description of the comments received, the agency’s response to those comments, and the date the rule goes into effect.
Federal Court Decisions
Although federal courts do not write or pass laws, they may establish individual “rights” under federal law through their interpretations of federal and state laws and the U.S. Constitution. For example, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka held that state laws which segregated public school students by race were unconstitutional, because they violated the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. In striking down those state laws, the Supreme Court determined that “separate but equal” educational facilities instilled a sense of inferiority in minority children that undermined their educational opportunities.